“Hello, my name is Caroline”, she said with a smile when I introduced myself as a visitor from Australia. She was genuinely surprised when I told her my friends and I watch Melodifestivalen and that’s how I knew her work, and that I have her CD which features Swedish language cover versions of songs by Janis Joplin. I made my usual joke about speaking Swedish like a five-year-old, and she told me that’s how she would also sum up her English language skills.
It was such an unexpected pleasure to meet Caroline af Ugglas, as I was shown around Sveriges Radio by Anders Held, their manager of International Relations. I first met Anders a few years ago, as he’s one of the organisers of the Radio Days Conference I’ve now attended twice. Even though I have visited Stockholm on several occasions, I’ve never actually visited Sveriges Radio before. Of course, radio stations tend to be very similar all over the world. But you always pick up an idea or two from a visit. So I wrote to Anders last week, asking if a visit was possible, and he said yes, showed me around the studios for P3 and P4, and told me a little about some of the other activities being undertaken by SR. It was a really terrific way to spend the morning, and Anders was a very kind, thoughtful host.
“You’re going to the ABBA Museum while you’re here, I hope?”, the morning presenter for P4 said to me when I paid a brief visit to their studio. I think I blushed with honesty in response.
Visiting the ABBA Museum was indeed how I was planning to spend the rest of the afternoon. Although it doesn’t open until Monday, the International ABBA Fan Club had organised a preview afternoon. Having been to the opening nights of ABBAWORLD in both Melbourne and Sydney, I knew a fair bit of what to expect. Of course, you see the costumes, the gold records, the photographs and so on. Much of the interactivity from the previous incarnations is there also, including the ability to sing along with holographic images of ABBA.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there’s also a phone (in the Ring Ring exhibit) which each of the members of ABBA has the phone number for. At least one of them, Frida has said she would ring the phone from time to time. “You want to start a riot?”, I said to a friend. “I have an old fashioned ring tone on my phone. You go over there, stand next to the phone, and when I play the ring tone you answer it”, I joked with him. Of course we didn’t do that, as that would be cruel, but it gave us quite a laugh. I’ll write more about the museum in another post.
Later in the afternoon, I went back to the hostel for a moment of peace and quiet, ahead of the evening’s entertainment.
For the evening, Sandra had invited me to a pop-up restaurant. She is a great fan of food from Mexico and had recently blogged about Stockholm’s Taco Truck. I’m also a fan of Mexican food, and so was quick to accept her invitation to join her for an evening where the Taco Truck became an actual restaurant for the night.
The crowd attending was “Very Söder”, I quickly concluded. There was a woman with Joan Baez qualities wearing a dressing gown, we noticed. There were also lots of blokes with beards and nerdy glasses. Hey, it’s me! If I was to make a comparison with home, I’d say Södermalm was very much like the Surry Hills/Darlinghurst part of Sydney. The area where I’m staying (Medborgarplatsen) is very much like Surry Hills. It has homeless people, it has people on low incomes, but it also has yuppies and hipsters. For the first time yesterday, I also noticed the heroin problem in the area, as I saw a couple of people who were quite out of it.
But back to the hipsters. The crowd attending the pop-up weren’t all that dissimilar to those I would see at a similar event in Sydney. Except maybe taller. Sandra and I were not only the oldest people attending the launch, but also the shortest. We had a great time chatting and enjoying the buzz, and I met a lovely friend of hers who is also a professional photographer. She took my photograph.
A drink or two later and a change of venue (including a meeting with another couple which consisted of a Swedish man and a South African woman), and it was time for bed.
But not before we attempted to enter a bar, but were refused entry. Oddly enough, it wasn’t because we’d had too much to drink. “It’s regulars only tonight”, the bouncer told us. As we noticed other people also turned away, but some people allowed entry, we quickly realised “regulars only” was actually code for “no old people allowed”.